Thursday, April 21, 2016

Support for Modeling in Multiple, Alternative Natural Languages

For a number of years, I have looked for a way to enable implementations of OMG modeling languages to support multiple, alternative natural languages.  It should be possible to develop a model with a modeling tool that expresses modeling language elements in your native language, allows you to identify elements in your model in terms from your native language, and allows you to express definitions for your terms in your native language.  Then, it should be possible to give your model to a person with a different native language and have the modeling language and your model expressed in terms with definitions from that person’s native language. Of course, somebody must do the translation, but over time, there should be shared libraries of terms and definitions for the same concepts in different languages at least for certain industries or business disciplines.
I have made several attempts to initiate a request for proposals (RFP) in the Object Management Group (OMG) to solicit solutions to this capability.  It potentially expands the market for OMG modeling languages, and it would be particularly beneficial to organizations with operations in multiple countries.  Furthermore, it would shift the focus of creation of modeling elements from debates over a name to development of clear definitions of concepts.  The alternative languages might not only be languages of different countries, but languages (vernacular) of different disciplines.
At the March meeting of the OMG, we finally issued a Request for Proposals for a Multiple Vocabulary Facility.  I developed a draft several meetings ago, but Evan Wallace of NIST (US National Institute of Standards and Technology) brought insights from his work on semantics and ontologies to clarify the specific need and distinguish it from other specifications that have some forms of multiple language facilities.
The intent is that a modeling language implementation can integrate an MVF product and access libraries of terms and definitions to be integrated into the user inputs and displays.  This allows the user models to retain the capability if moved to a different modeling language tool as long as it supports MVF.
Submitters to this RFP must be OMG members at an appropriate membership level (Contributing or Platform), but submissions are often the product of coalitions with at least one qualified submitter.  Letters of intent are due to OMG by August 29, 2016.  Initial submissions are due February 20, 2016.  The process allows for submitters to reconcile differences after initial submissions for the possibility that they can converge to one, broadly accepted final submission.

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